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09 January 2013

Interview with Lisa M. Stasse

The Forsaken (The Forsaken #1

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

1) How and why have you started to write? Were there something or someone that gave you an impulse?

I've always loved writing, ever since I was really young. I used to carry a book around with me as a toy, even before I could read! And I work as a librarian in Los Angeles. I think the impulse probably came from my parents, who read a lot of books. Growing up there were always tons of books around our house! My husband Alex McAulay is also a writer, who has written four young adult novels for Pocket Books, including Bad Girls and Oblivion Road.

2) Tell me something about you and your book The Forsaken.

The Forsaken is about a sixteen year old girl named Alenna Shawcross, living in a dystopian future in which The United States, Canada, and Mexico have merged for economic reasons (against the wishes of the citizens). The government has developed a test called the GPPT which claims to diagnose hidden violent and subversive tendencies in teenagers. Alenna fails the test, even though she has never done anything wrong in her entire life, and is banished to a brutal prison island called "the wheel." There, she has to choose a tribe, make friends, forge alliances, and fight the government machines controlling the island. Ultimately, she and some friends embark on a dangerous escape attempt from the island, and not everyone survives.

3) While you're writing, have you discovered a character that you where developing feelings of love for? And was there a character that gave you headaches?

I tend to love all my characters, even the villains! ;) I think my favorite characters are the main ones: Alenna, her boyfriend Liam, her best friend Gadya, and her other friend/potential future love interest David. Probably the hardest character to write was "The Monk" (the villain) because he is hidden behind a mask for a lot of the book, and I had to keep his true identity a secret.

4) How have you done your research for this novel?

I mainly researched prison systems and tropical islands. "The wheel" is basically a nightmare version of a prison island. In my research, I found all kinds of terrifying prisons, from giant ones that existed in the 1800's, to ones that exist in present day America (the scary SuperMax ones for violent offenders).  So most of my research was about prisons and islands, just to get the details right.

5) Is there a book that inspired your writings?

There have been tons of book that really inspired me along the way. Probably the ones I drew the most inspiration from were Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and The Maze Runner. But I'm also a fan of classic dystopian novels like 1984 and Brave New World, so I was inspired by them as well. Margaret Atwood is also a big inspiration--her novel The Handmaid's Tale is fantastic.

6) In the end, would you like say some words to your fans from Romania?

Hello everyone! :) I hope you enjoy The Forsaken! I've never been to Romania, but maybe one day I will get to go there and meet some of you in person. Say hi to me anytime on twitter (@LisaMStasse)!

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